The ministry of external affairs pointed out on Thursday that the family of Karima Baloch, a noted Pakistani human rights activist found dead in the Canadian city of Toronto, had sought an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
Karima, 37, was reported missing in Toronto’s waterfront area on December 20 and her body was found by police a day later. Local police said they have no reason to suspect foul play, but Karima’s husband Hammal Haidar and brother Sameer Mehrab pointed out she had been receiving death threats and sought an investigation.
Asked about the Baloch activist’s death during a weekly news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “We have also seen the reports about the death of Ms Karima Baloch, a noted Baloch activist. Our condolences to the family.
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“It is not for us to comment on this matter but I understand her family has sought an investigation,” he added.
Amnesty International has described Karima’s death as “deeply shocking” and said it must be “immediately and effectively investigated” by Canadian authorities.
Karima fled Pakistan in 2016, saying she feared for her life due to threats from the army and intelligence agencies, and sought refuge in Canada, where she was later granted asylum.
She was included in BBC’s list of 100 inspirational and influential women for 2016, in which she was described as a campaigner “for independence for Balochistan from Pakistan”. The same year, she had recorded a video message on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, in which she called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “brother” and asked him to become the voice of the Baloch movement.
At an event held by Baloch Canadians in Toronto in 2018 to mark what they claimed to be the 70th anniversary of the illegal occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan, Karima said India had the reach to raise what she described as the “genocide” of Baloch people.
Karima’s death came about eight months after Baloch journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch, who wrote about human rights abuses in Balochistan, was found dead in Sweden. His family and friends alleged he was murdered. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said his mysterious disappearance and death could have been organised by Pakistani intelligence agencies because of his work as a journalist.